Democrats & Liberals Archives

Lessons Unlearned

It would be interesting to figure out why some people are so eager to talk this country into another war. I mean, the real question here is where the hell they expect to find all the extra soldiers for that, given the strain they’ve put on the forces they already have. Are there good intentions going to make up the gap between that they want and what they can get? Don’t count on it.

The Republican candidates, and even some Democrats who should be especially ashamed of themselves, have decided to get tough on Iran. In the history of futile gestures, this would rank high. Under ordinary circumstances, I would expect such bad ideas to remain talk, as many tough-sounding opinions of this kind do. Unfortunately, if the past several years have taught me any lessons, it's never to underestimate this administration's ability to talk itself into taking foolish actions, or their party's willingness to rationalize following their lead.

Or, it seems, the ability of some in my party to convince themselves that somebody who polls unpopular with three-quarters of the public can make them look like they're being weak on protecting America.

Once more, some are prepared to convince themselves that the best case scenarios are the ones that will come to pass in such a war, rather than prepared for what negative turns of events might be likely. I mean, how many people out there honestly believe, especially with our readiness problems for ground forces that the Iranians can't or won't counterattack when we go for an airstrike?

The proponents seem to believe they can pull victory out of the air, literally speaking. They're once again beating the drums for war without having worked out what the needs of the war would be, or whether it would even be able to acheive its desired effect. Once more, they're beating up on those who would counsel restraint and non-military action. Once more they're claiming that doing anything less than going to war will result in the potential for apocalyptic destruction.

The sad part about this is that even if they're right, their actions up to this point have made it extraordinarily difficult to summon the resources to manage this new war they would have us wage. They have insisted on the continuation of heavy involvement in Iraq, but never resolved the manpower problem, so now we are unready for any military crisis that would require ground troops.

Managing military units overseas is a task requiring logistical coordination. You can't just maintain forces overseas indefinitely. You have to rotate them back to reequip them, to allow them to bleed off the stresses of the battlefield, to train and retrain as necessary. The requirements of this rotation, not any particular hard limit on the number of soldiers we can send, is what's getting us into trouble.

We can talk about having the best equipped soldiers in the world, but equipment wears down, and its easier to reequip the entire group together, rather than trying to do that in the field. We can talk about the best trained soldiers in the world, but consistent training is best done way from the battlefield, especially given the demands that the soldier's duties place on their time and energy. And of course, for even the toughest soldier, there's no place like home, and morale cannot long endure the absence from it.

Our soldiers may be surrounded by machines, but they are not machines themselves. It's easy for somebody to sit behind a keyboard or a desk and just tell them to gut it out, but human beings are not built to take constant stress forever. Neither can any army remain sharp in the field forever if training is cut short, the best equipment is made rare, and the senses and judgment are made dull by the physiological effects of stress and trauma on the brain.

Nor, in order to keep this up, is it a good idea to lower standards for recruitment. That's what's happened.

If things are this bad just doing Iraq and Afghanistan, add Iran into the mix and you might as well kiss our position as a military power goodbye. We're already suffering in that department. Now, the weavers of jingo and the masters of disaster believe that we can only maintain that prominence if we continue to take the fight to such enemies, but really, doing things this way, even if they are correct about who we face, will just benefit those enemies. It already has. We've increased recruitment among the terrorists, allowed them time to regain their strength, strained our relationships with those whose help we would need to ask for.

As tough as the words are, as compelling as their fearful rhetoric seems, and as unpleasant as the possibilities are, the belligerents on the right have managed to produce a military policy that has to make up in machismo for what it lacks in actual effectiveness. They're trying to win the war on terror through bluff and bluster, by focusing on psychological elements of warfare they could better handle by getting the physical and logistical matters well in hand. They keep on confusing killing the bad guys with defeating them, reducing the violence with ending it altogether. They want to believe that if they win the political battle here, they can just will their way to winning the real battle overseas.

I'm no pacifist. I do not believe broadly that maintaining the ability to fight wars or fighting wars is wrong. I do, though, consider it something to be done only when necessary, and something to be avoided if it can be helped. War is not a tame beast. It doesn't necessarily go where it's master tells it to. History is full of examples of those who, having started wars, end up being destroyed by them instead.

We have established little conclusively about the necessity for this war. Leaders talk about not letting Iran have the bomb, and blather away with belligerency, unheeding the correlation between support for research into the weapon and fears of war coming from the united states. If we were to take our rhetoric down a notch, popular support for the leaders seeking this path would drop. Unfortunately, if there is one thing that the current leaders in the White House are exceedingly poor at, it's preventing themselves from sticking their feet in their mouths.

However, I see no reason why Democrats should follow their lead.

Some may portray expressing reservation and telling the Bush administration to stick its head in a bucket of water as being soft on terrorism, but given the administration's gap on crediblity, any fear of such a label should be viewed as a relic of the past. Once being portrayed as soft by Bush was bad. Now having Bush campaign for you makes you radioactive. There's a reason. People are not looking for folks concerned with how they look to the voters. They're concerned with what people are actually doing, in the here and now. They've had too much of idealists who can't match claims with facts, or promises with results. They want people who can switch gears to actually making difficult decisions for the good of the country.

They want government with crediblity, and there is little crediblity to be gained by continuing to cooperate in realizing the hopes and dreams of those whose vision for our military future is yet another war to be started with insufficient men, materials and planning. Iraq has been a difficult lesson to learn. It will be a truly pathetic thing to see this country fail to learn that lesson with the failures of Iraq still ongoing.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at October 30, 2007 4:38 PM
Comments
Comment #237239

Stephen Daugherty

I believe that The Figure Heads plan on using the

newly developed Bombs an very few Military Personal.

A new an innovative style of Warfare?

Posted by: -DAVID- at October 30, 2007 5:01 PM
Comment #237241
The Republican candidates, and even some Democrats who should be especially ashamed of themselves, have decided to get tough on Iran.

Getting tough how? By ramping up diplomatic pressure with sanctions and drawing red lines regarding illegal uranium enrichment that is in violation of Non-proliferation agreements that Iran has signed?

What you’re leaving out of the equation is that if you don’t “get tough” now, when the situation is relatively manageable, you (or someone else) might have to get really tough later on.

Presenting a weak front and appeasement is NOT a road to peace. It’s a road to a much bloodier and more damaging conflict later on. Even if we sit on our hands and do nothing, Israel will not. Nor should they in regards to a regime that has promised their destruction.

Posted by: Liam at October 30, 2007 5:14 PM
Comment #237242

Liam

I am sure had the Bush Administration not treated

the Iranians like second class citizens, an

approached them in a manor, like Bush did Tony Blair

most likely, would have brought about a different

conclusion with Iran. I am quiet sure, the Iranians
have not forgotten our involvement in putting

the Shaw of Iran in power.

Posted by: -DAVID- at October 30, 2007 5:37 PM
Comment #237243

Liam

I forgot to mention that the destruction of

Israel has been promised for over two thousand years

an they seem to hold their own quiet well, along

with a great deal of support from America. The

Question is, why do people continue to use the term

or threat, the destruction of Israel?

Posted by: -DAVID- at October 30, 2007 5:49 PM
Comment #237244

Liam-
Weak fronts. Your friends the neocons let our forces become so overtaxed that you won’t even be able to sustain your current numbers in Iraq for long. Iran has been more than willing to take advantage of our failure to properly secure Iraq. You talk of a weak front. Trouble is, your side has created it by your negligence.

Ahmedinejad’s election is a result of anxieties over Washington’s saber rattling. His support is not that solid. Like Bush, he depends on an external threat to justify himself as indispensable. There are quiet ways to draw what lines we can with Iran, ways that don’t involve publically sending messages Iran’s hardliner’s can use to drum up support for belligerence in return.

The best way to project toughness is not to to make threats you can’t back up well, nor to stir up trouble when you can’t put it back to bed again. What you would like to control is meaningless. What you can control is what matters.

Projecting images is less important than handling realities. If we fail at the second, it makes doing the first a sick joke.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 30, 2007 5:54 PM
Comment #237247

Stephen:

So you think Congress would ok military force against Iran?

I think they might. Iran right now is using Iraq as a proxy war. They are threatening to take out a democracy. They have no legitimate need for nuclear energy.

I can see who the Air Force and the Navy could bomb them back a few years.

I also see how diplomacy by Europe the UN and United States has failed so far.

It looks like there are fewer and fewer options.

I wonder what standard of evidence Congress would insist on?

What burden of proof the Democratic party would insist on before supporting a new war, at least until there is trouble anyway.

What ever the vote, Bush would need to know that he was alone as soon as something went wrong.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at October 30, 2007 6:19 PM
Comment #237250
What ever the vote, Bush would need to know that he was alone as soon as something went wrong.

I think he learned that cold fact already. :/

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 30, 2007 7:44 PM
Comment #237251

Stephen, it appears to me that Bush Admin. has no plans for ground force invasion of Iraq, only bombing their facilities capable of enriching uranium.

Sound familiar? They had no plans for holding Iraq together either, or rebuilding the country. The aftermath of invading Iraq was unintended consequence. I truly believe they refuse to hear the Joint Chiefs of Staff who must be advising them that a bombing run on Iran WILL require ground forces fighting with Iranians after the Iranians block oil shipment through the Straights of Hormuz, and their incursions into Iraq. Not to mention Syria coming into play, and all hell breaking loose between the Kurds and Turkey.

I have no doubt that Bush has every intention of bombing Iran’s facilities. His cabinet knows how unlikely it will be that the next president, regardless of who they are, would risk weakening our national defenses to that dire extent. So, it is up to them to do it. Bush has only one legacy, and their is no salvaging it, except in the eyes of those who believe fighting Iran is worth destroying our nation’s future if need be. The same eyes who still see invading Iraq as a brilliant foreign policy decision.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 30, 2007 8:39 PM
Comment #237253

Craig Holmes-
The question that’s going to keep you up nights is does this president actually think it’s necessary for Congress to okay that military action?

Iran is not Iraq’s biggest problem. The insurgency causing the most damage belongs to Arab Nationalist Sunnis. However much the Bush Administration’s rhetorics talk about Iran’s complicating role in this, they’re actually very small players overall.

Think about it for a second: what could Iran have against a heavily theocratic shia Democracy next door? Also think about this: they’re backing the same people we are as the Shia representatives.

As for Diplomacy? Before Bush shot his mouth off about an Axis of Evil, they were helping us in Afghanistan. Bush’s diplomacy so far has been to get more and more belligerent towards Iran, which has basically succeeded in making the Hardliner’s there seem like Godsends. It is they who are pushing the nuke.

As for standards of proof?

Here’s the thing: the commanders on the ground say the best option for dealing with Iranian agents in Iraq is to take them out where we find them inside Iraq’s borders. Not much Iran can do about that.

Beyond that, Iran would have to pull a Pearl Harbor and actually be foolish enough to attack us or Israel.

As for Bush? You know, he wasn’t alone in the beginning, and if he had been more tolerant and conciliatory, more open, he wouldn’t be alone now. If Bush moves unilaterally against Iran, he will find himself very quickly very alone, especially if things go like the numbers say they will.

The trouble here is that folks on the Right are going back and forth convincing themselves this is necessary based on what other folks in the party have said. They haven’t stepped back and actually looked at things.

I would only hope that people consider the Bush doctrine dead. No pre-emptive war to remove WMDS.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 30, 2007 9:35 PM
Comment #237258
Liam- Weak fronts. Your friends the neocons let our forces become so overtaxed that you won’t even be able to sustain your current numbers in Iraq for long. Iran has been more than willing to take advantage of our failure to properly secure Iraq. You talk of a weak front. Trouble is, your side has created it by your negligence.

My side? And what side would that be? The American side? You yourself are complaining about how many Democrats are joining with Republicans on this.

My friends, the neocons? MY negligence? What pray tell are you talking about?

The “hardliners” did not suddenly come into power because of George Bush’s “saber-rattling.” They came into power decades ago and never left.
They’ve been chanting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” for practically a generation now.

If you want an idea of how not to respond to Iran, look at how they spent years slapping around poor Jimmy Carter and then wised up practically overnight when a US president with a backbone rode onto the scene.

Posted by: Liam at October 30, 2007 10:07 PM
Comment #237262

Liam-
The American side? I thought we were both on that. It would be a shame if we forgot that significant common ground.

The Republicans have sat by insistent on the indefinite continuation of the war until we see success. However, their silence on bulking up our arm to hold up to this operational tempo is deafening. The people who should care the most notice these problems the least. That’s the negligence I’m talking about.

As for the Hardliners? Iran is not the Monolithic den of evil some pretend it to be. The truth is, much of their population were children or not even born during the time of the revolution. Many want to see a relaxing of the theocracy, and are chafing at the rule of the Mullahs. We could appeal to those people through long-term peaceful efforts, but as long as we have saber-rattlers making irresponsible comments, some folks will feel more secure with the haters of the American Satan rather than more compromising and enterprising leaders in place.

However, like many people, they will unite to protect their native land, if it is attacked. People are funny like that. Do you want to hand Ahmedinejad the political advantage in Iran that Bin Laden gave George Bush when he attacked America?

As for your last paragraph? Correct me if I’m wrong, but this president with a backbone made arms deals with them to get hostages, and withdrew American forces in the face of the terror attack on the Marine Barracks.

As for Iran slapping Carter around? Look, we supported a right-wing dictatorship in that country that through it’s violent oppression incited one of the most modern, advanced countries in the Middle East to sink into a fever of medieval theocracy. Carter got the tail end of a very misbegotten policy.

Bush has made the situation worse, and left to himself, he will hand Iran and other enemies of ours many more advantages over us.

Folks have to get their heads out of the clouds and concede that even the greatest military power in the world has its limits. If you fail to acknowledge them, you might just end up making those limits even more of a problem.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 30, 2007 10:45 PM
Comment #237264


If you want an idea of how not to respond to Iran, look at how they spent years slapping around poor Jimmy Carter and then wised up practically overnight when a US president with a backbone rode onto the scene.

Ah yes, ignorance is bliss. Are you talking about the arms that were sold to Iran by the Reagan administration, often referred to as Iran-Contra. No of course not, you are referring to the Algiers Accord negotiated by Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher, brokered by Algiers that set the hostages free. Oh, that was Warren Christopher Deputy Secretary under President Carter. I understand how neo-Cons like to point to that golden age, known as the Reagan Presidency. While he might have made the grass green and the sky blue, he didn’t negotiate the release of the hostages.

Posted by: Cube at October 30, 2007 11:01 PM
Comment #237265

Stephen, I know full well that a good many average Iranians (if not most) do not share the flaws of their theocratic government.

Unfortunately, however, that theocratic government is not a mere detail that can be overlooked any more than Imperial Japan or Nazi Germany could be overlooked simply because there was so many decent and innocent Germans and Japanese.

However, like many people, they will unite to protect their native land, if it is attacked.

Absolutely right. 100% spot on.

And that’s why Israel is very likely to turn Tehran into a parking lot if the Iranian government (not its people mind you—but its government) don’t stop enriching uranium.

You seem to see everything through the blinders of the US role here. But we have to deal with two very important facts.

1: Iran has sworn to destroy Israel.

2: Israel has stated that Iran will NEVER go nuclear.

You talk about US saber-rattling, but there are others who already have their sabers drawn and ready.

Posted by: Liam at October 30, 2007 11:18 PM
Comment #237270
While he might have made the grass green and the sky blue, he didn’t negotiate the release of the hostages.

Some of us that lived through that time have a little different view, Cube.

Were the hostage negotiated out of Iran? Or were the Iranians just making sure Carter didn’t get re-elected? Or did the Iran-Contra affair get back to pre-1980 and explain why the hostages weren’t released until after Reagan was sworn in?

I don’t think it’s nearly as clear cut as either you OR Liam make it out to be.

Of course, it seldom is, which is why listening to the constant rhetoric of the Dems and Repubs, like incpit four year olds, gets boring quickly.

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 31, 2007 12:15 AM
Comment #237272

The allegation that Iran is involved militarily in Iraq is not proven. It is just an allegation,an allegation by the same people that claimed Saddam had WMDs.

There is also no clear evidence Iran intends to develope a nuclear device.Another allegation by the same.Being capable of it does not mean they will do it.They could at any time withdraw from the NPT as India did. They have not.

Iran has not agressed on another country for hundreds of years.Its not their MO.

Iran is more democratic than many of our allies in the region ie.Saudi Arabia,UAE,Eygpt,Kuwait.

The biggest problem with Iran is that they stand in the way of US domination of the region and therefore much of the worlds oil supplies.

One should pay attention to the countries gathering the most venom from the MSM and neo-con propaganda machine.Venesula,Russia, and Iran. All three have demanded a bigger share of the profits from the major oil companies. This is not a coincidence. Our forign policy is driven by corporate interest.No more blood for oil.

Posted by: BillS at October 31, 2007 12:33 AM
Comment #237274

Rhinehold, Iran would have LOVED it if Carter was reelected. He raised the prestige of their regime immeasurably. When he wasn’t engaged in limp-wristed diplomatic responses to their total violation of the laws of diplomatic immunity by taking diplomats hostage, he was crashing American helicopters in the Iranian desert.

Warren Christopher, of the lame-duck outgoing Carter administration negotiated the release of the hostages? Please. That was purely cosmetic. Iran had no reason but the fact that their asses were on the line to even answer Christopher’s phonecalls.

A major reason for Reagan’s election was his campaign promise to smack down Iran, and the hostages were released approximately SIX MINUTES after he was sworn in.

Put 2 and 2 together. Six months of Carter, and then six minutes of Reagan. It couldn’t be more obvious.

Posted by: Liam at October 31, 2007 12:48 AM
Comment #237279

Liam
Agreed. It could not be more obvious that Reagan was in cahoots with the Iranians,most likely promising arms.

Posted by: BillS at October 31, 2007 1:29 AM
Comment #237281

Liam

These helicopters were not shot down, two had rags

stuffed into the air intake an the other three got

sand in their engines causing them to discontinue

the rescue operation. In 1986 the Contra Affair

was broke in a Lebanese Newspaper forcing the

Reagan Administration to disclose the arms deal.

1983 - 1985 an Indicted in 1991 _ Robert Mcfarlane

John Poindexter-Lt. Col.Oliver North an defence

Secretary Casper Weinberger an Vice President

Bush an X-CIA Director, William Casey were also

included in the Iran-Contra Affair but were the

only two not too be Indited. Someone else can

follow the money trail. One of these people

received a pardon from Reagan an I can’t remember

what happened to the rest.

Posted by: -DAVID- at October 31, 2007 1:56 AM
Comment #237286

Craig Holmes,

Iran […] have no legitimate need for nuclear energy.

Hum?
Since when in the NPT a state have to “legitimate” its needs for nuclear energy?
Since when the US decide which state actually needs or not nuclear energy!?

And, so far, we’ve ZERO proof that Iran is seeking nuclear bomb. Contrary to North Korea, which was never threated to be attacked.

And you still wonder why the rest of the world looks at US diplomacy like it’s total crap!?

I can see who the Air Force and the Navy could bomb them back a few years.

I also see how diplomacy by Europe the UN and United States has failed so far.

It looks like there are fewer and fewer options.

I wonder what standard of evidence Congress would insist on?

What burden of proof the Democratic party would insist on before supporting a new war, at least until there is trouble anyway.

What ever the vote, Bush would need to know that he was alone as soon as something went wrong.
Posted by:

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 31, 2007 6:49 AM
Comment #237287

Ooops, sorry, my previous post ends at “crap”, the rest is pure copy’n’paste mistake.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 31, 2007 6:50 AM
Comment #237288

Stephen,

I would only hope that people consider the Bush doctrine dead. No pre-emptive war to remove WMDS.

To remove WHAT?!?
Which ones?
None could be found ever since 5 years, except in one single axis of evil states, the only one that US NEVER threat to attacked or invaded: North Korea.

I would only hope that people consider the Bush doctrine dead. No pre-emptive war to remove *ACTUAL* WMDS.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 31, 2007 6:59 AM
Comment #237290

Liam,

A major reason for Reagan’s election was his campaign promise to smack down Iran, and the hostages were released approximately SIX MINUTES after he was sworn in.

Put 2 and 2 together. Six months of Carter, and then six minutes of Reagan. It couldn’t be more obvious.

I was always impressed that Reagan actually ended that crisis in just 6 minutes without giving Iran anything in exchange. What an hero.

Too bad he waste such credit with the Iran Gate a few months later. Obvioulsy, these two history facts can’t be connected…

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 31, 2007 7:10 AM
Comment #237291

We are applying diplomatic pressure to Iran and working with allies and through the UN. The war thing is in the heads of those who just like to talk about those sorts of things and believe in unilaterally surrendering the initiative to the Iranians.

But you guys feel free to keep on trashing your country’s leadership over it. After all, now that the Iraq tide has turned, you will need a straw man to attack. Yes, we all feel sorry for the poor Iranian Mullahs who want nothing more than to destroy Israel and dominate the region. They are the victims here, because to liberals any anti-American is a victim and liberal love victims.

BTW - this whole Shah thing is getting very old. The Shah did some nasty things in Iran. He also brought some progress to that benighted place. He stayed too long. He had our support. Our helping him in power happened more than 54 years ago. The Shah fell from power almost 30 years ago.

Since that time, the Islamic Republic has applied more terror to the population than the Shah did. They have managed to run an oil rich country almost into the ground. The idea that it is still the fault of the U.S. is like a 54 year-old loser blaming the childhood taunting by his older sister for his current impecunious condition and his failed marriages.

I seriously doubt if the Iranian leadership really believes it. They are nasty, but not that stupid. What they do understand is that they can bamboozle uninformed people in the West into feeling guilty. It is a diversion. We should just say no.

Posted by: Jack at October 31, 2007 7:23 AM
Comment #237292

Jack said the tide has turned in Iraq.

Break out the champagne, we can bring our troops home, and look forward to a democratic government in Iraq friendly to U.S. world hegemony, and a nation that will teach love and peace to their Middle Eastern neighbors.

Thanks, for the great news Jack. Now, if I could only corroborate that news somehow. Having a little difficulty there. Iraq is still incredibly violent, corrupt, and broken politically. Lulls in violence, in case you haven’t read your history is part and parcel of any war. Remember the relative calm before the Tet Offensive?

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 31, 2007 7:33 AM
Comment #237297

Liam-
Do you know how long it takes to enrich uranium to weapons grade? It will be years, likely, before they have a bomb. Once they have it, then, they have to refine it so that it can actually be stuck on a missile or flown on an aircraft. That’s years in the future, even if it works. Remember North Korea? That other country we couldn’t make deals with, but currently are anyways?

The people are never a mere detail in terms of the politics of a country. When Ahmedinejad gets mobbed at a local college, and his bodyguards play bumper cars driving out of the place since their so scared shitless of them, one could say his support was soft. I said he was like Bush in why he was popular. Like Bush, though, he’s messed things up. Right now, he’s relying on us to keep his people scared enough not to notice that he’s a complete moron in terms of foreign policy

Iran does not have the political solidarity you ascribe to Germany and Japan Nor do they have the industrial power, especially after years of sanctions, to support a campaign of military conquest. Striking at Israel is a pipe dream, a thing said in speeches as an applause line.

Like I said before, if we have to attack, we do. But not to prevent enrichment of Uranium. It’s all or nothing then. It’s destroy the program completely, or attempt with insufficient forces and public support to fight a war nobody but the Neocons really wanted in the first place.

You guys have gotten this rather pathological idea of preventing all potential threats from coming to pass, yet you do not recognize that our country simply isn’t organized as a society around perpetual war. Neither is our army for that matter. America would have to become something it’s not to go to war to prevent every threat.

Moreover, these policies are counterproductive to both their intent and purpose. They are making it less likely we’ll get cooperation from others in reducing the threats against our country. It’s making us enemies, turning populations in other countries against America, if not Americans themselves. It’s allowed our real enemy and the real threats to become stronger, to recover from our justified war against them.

Not all saber-rattling is followed by violence. Iran has been rattling the saber at Israel for just about my entire lifetime. Their actual military action against Israel has been negligible. Come to think of it, nearly every nation in the vicinity has done the same. Did that mean they could not be negotiated with? Not at all. A number of the countries have buried that hatchet. Besides, just about everbody remembers Israel’s scrappy performance in the wars they’ve fought against it. So Teheran gets one bomb. Israel has more, and the rational factions amidst the Iranian government know this.

What we do is make it very clear through diplomatic channels that if Israel is ever attacked, Whatever city the Mullahs are in becomes a glass parking lot, and that they will be held responsible for whatever bomb can be traced back to Iranian sources. Surely they know Isreal will also be quick to strike back. They don’t seem to have been shy about Osirak or the plant in Syria.

The trick with Pre-emptive warfare is that you have to finish what you start, and you also have to demonstrate you were right, that there was an imminent danger to your country there. Preventing a threat is not good enough. Even the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese could argue that B.S.

This kind of policy would make me nervous under the best of circumstances, since it’s a break with our defense-oriented posture of old. However, with the people in charge, with their willingness to accept cruddy evidence to justify these actions, I just can’t see this is a good way to save American lives, much less a wise one.

I like defense more. With defense, you don’t have to feel one damn bit guilty about going to war. You know why you’re doing it. With defense, your reason for doing it is immediate and obvious. With defense, you can deter with presence, which is a lot cheaper than trying to defer while starting a bunch of wars that will sap your strength. You’re fresh for the fight, and the other idiot’s made the mistake of attacking first. Militarily, it’s always easier to defend than to attack.

Jack-
Don’t be so certain about that. This administration seems to be making a lot of noise similar to what was made before the Gulf war, and with the doctrines that folks like John Yoo came up with, we don’t know whether Bush and Cheney think they can go to war without actually asking us. We got that extra carrier in the Persian Gulf, and we got the Republicans all pushing for this. Democrats like myself remember all too well believing that this Administration would not go as far as it did, and being proved wrong time and again. There are many points where we believed they would do the rational thing, including after the 2006 elections. The Surge was not the response most people thought the Bush Administration would employ in the wake of election that showed clear support for ending the war.

The simple fact of the matter is, many of us, especially moderates like myself simply do not trust this President to weigh his options with good faith attention to the consequences.

As for the Mullahs in Iran? It’s a typical misreading of the average Democrat’s position to think we’re sympathetic to them. We bring up the Shah because a lot of nasty repercussions have begun from well intentioned efforts to control politics in that region already. The more pain and suffering we cause in the region, the more people, sympathetic or unsympathetic, will be motivated to cause us pain in return.

It may be our history, but it is their past, and their motivation. However, you’re right, many of the people now living in that country do not have living memory of that tragic period in their past. They only know what’s happening right now. What’s happening is that the Bush Administration and many political candidates are sending messages that are at best mixed if not outright hostile over the public airwaves about not letting Iran have nuclear weapons. Given what we did in Iraq, what kind of signal do you think this communicates to the Iranian people?

Support for the hardliners is dependent on having a foreign enemy to resist and defy. The more we take that from them, the more we become concerned peacemakers rather than a warlike threat, the more the hardliners will seem like folks looking to stir the hornet’s nest. They’re not popular. a well managed de-escalation of the noise will make them even less so.

My concern with this administration is not that I have much sympathy for their targets. In fact, in earlier, more naive days, I expressed the preference that we go after Iran or Syria, rather than Iraq. Iraq barely registered as a terrorist threat. Iran and Syria were known sponsors. Silly me, I was taking the president literally about a war on terrorism.

No, my problem is that this administration has the tendency to fulfill, against the better judgment of the rest of the nation, the threats it makes. The rest of us, then, have to look forward to cleaning up his messes.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 31, 2007 8:33 AM
Comment #237300
No, my problem is that this administration has the tendency to fulfill, against the better judgment of the rest of the nation, the threats it makes.

Well, this kind of self-fullfilling threat prediction didn’t work that well regarding Iraq’s wapor WMDs…

The rest of us, then, have to look forward to cleaning up his messes.

Stop doing it. Remove funds. Sue all war profiters to fund the cleanup operation. Hit where it hurt: get money FROM the one who wants the most the Iraq War.

Sure, it needs political will. And? What the problem when a huge majority of americans will support such ideas?

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 31, 2007 9:15 AM
Comment #237309

Phillipe Houdoin-
The biggest political problem is the uncertainty of the outcomes. Nobody want’s to be blamed for the results of what’s been done.

Make no mistake, I wish to see the war over and done with. But getting out of a war like this will be far more complicated than it’s been getting into this.

While I’m at it, though, I’m going to keep this administration from testing the notion that the third time’s a charm. It’s easier to stay out of a war than to get out of one.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 31, 2007 11:11 AM
Comment #237310


If Bush attacks Iran, the Islamic world will see it not as an obvious grab for Iran’s oil reserves but rather as an attack on Islam. That could very well cook Musharraf’s goose and nuclear Pakistan could become the next Islamic state. Can you say WWIII? Bush can.

The Neocons have big plans which also include the gas and oil reserves of Russia. Under the guise of protecting against missle strikes from rogue nations, the Administration is negotiating to put radar instalations and anti-balistic missles in former Warsaw Pact countries. These weapons can also be used to shoot down Russian ICBM’s. This leaves Russia with a dilemma, should they wait while the United States renders their weapons impotent or should they use them before they loose them? Can you say WWIII? The Neocons can.

Iraq is just the begining and we in America don’t know how lucky we are that Bush screwed it up because if he hadn’t, we would already be in Iran.

Posted by: jlw at October 31, 2007 11:12 AM
Comment #237319

SD
The defeat of a democratic government in Iran and the imposition of the Shah as despot were never “well intentioned”.Those actions were taken to secure Irans oil at terms favorable to US/British oil concerns.

Posted by: BillS at October 31, 2007 1:23 PM
Comment #237330

David

The Tet offensive destroyed the Viet Kong ability to operate independently. It was a victory for the N. Vietnamese in that it cracked our will to win.

In Iraq we have no equivalent of North Vietnam - or the Union Army - who will conquer the country with tanks and air support. Remember, in Vietnam, the insurgency was destroyed. It did not conquer the Saigon anymore than an insurgency took Richmond in our Civil War.

In Iraq, unlike Vietnam, once the insurgency is controlled, there is not other place that can mount a successful invasion.

Jlw

Russia has no dilemma. There is no way any conceivable missile defense can shoot down enough Russian missiles to make a difference. We all know that Russia can overwhelm a missile defense. It is aimed at rouge states and designed to create uncertainty for them.

Stephen

How many times have liberals predicted an imminent attack on Iran? How many times has it happened? The administration is doing exactly what you claim to support, playing hardball diplomacy and trying to work with allies and the UN. You are mistaking a game of poker for dodge ball.

BillS

The Mossadeq regime probably would not have produced democracy. In any case, the predecessors of the current Iranian leadership hated the man anyway. They were NOT his supporters and it is disingenuous to claim they were unhappy about his overthrow.

You know, if you listen to the Iranians, they almost never bring it up. According to them, our big offense is supporting Israel and trying to prevent them from having a bomb. We like to self flagellate about this, but it really is a non-issue. It is a much hotter topic in western academic buildings than in the halls of power in Tehran.


Posted by: Jack at October 31, 2007 4:32 PM
Comment #237336
Liam- Do you know how long it takes to enrich uranium to weapons grade? It will be years, likely, before they have a bomb. Once they have it, then, they have to refine it so that it can actually be stuck on a missile or flown on an aircraft. That’s years in the future, even if it works.

Stephen, none of that is really the point. The uranium enrichment program is against the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty—to which Iran is a signatory. What’s more the UN itself has declared it illegal and imposed sanctions against Iran over this.

You seem to have the mistaken belief that I’d like to see a war between Iran and the US, when I’m actually interested in avoiding one. Perhaps Bush wants that war—and if so, I oppose him. At least right now, which is exactly why I think that raising the diplomatic heat is a good alternative.

Further, IT DOESN’T MATTER if Iran’s nukes would be deployed, if they’d work, or even if Iran is really trying to build them or intends to. What matters much more is this: does ISRAEL think they are? If Iran continues down the road they’re on—even it’s just in their rhetoric and in enriching uranium in violation of international law, then Israel is going to bomb them, and we’re not going to be able to restrain them. It’s not even a maybe—that’s simply what will happen. And then we’ve got WWIII on our hands.

Posted by: Liam at October 31, 2007 6:39 PM
Comment #237353

Jack-
People expect progress, not merely it’s perpetual promise. By the time the Tet Offensive rolled around, we had been in the war for several years. Even with the military victories, we weren’t getting the South Vietnamese in a state where they could take over.

As in Iraq, without that political victory, without the sustainability of the state, all the military victories in the world could not win the war, since the war was about acheiving the aim of leaving South Vietnam capable of defending itself.

All wars, especially long ones, carry with them their price and their burden. Americans are right to ask themselves and their leaders when a war is worth it, and when it’s not.

Another issue for long wars is whether the objective is attainable any longer.

The truth of the matter is, the opportunity to get Iraq done right ourselves has passed us by. You could have been advocating for a concerted effort towards counterinsurgency years ago, when the insurgency was just starting. Instead, you wait until after it’s ravaged the country and our influence with these people is minimal.

What really bugs me is this habit of proclaiming any success as evidene of THE success, the overall path to victory on the war. Unfortunately, we seem to be arming both sides of a Civil War without getting them to reconcile.

The logical consequences of that are obvious.

Liam-
You say it’s not the point, that Iran is breaking UN agreements. So let the UN deal with it. If the UN wants action based on international law, great. They can help us with getting soldier there as well.

But lets not forget one major fact: we did an end run around them to get into Iraq. We weren’t fulfilling the UN resolutions, we were bypassing the system that made them worth something altogether. You can’t appeal to international law and advocate a unilateral preventative war. They are mutually exclusive.

As for what Israel thinks? Our job is not to overreact faster than the Israelis. Giving the hardliners there a free hand was a massive mistake. We do not need a bunch of loose cannons committing acts of war unprovoked by attack or imminent attack.

We need to confront real threats with real plans of actions, and without relying on military action like a crutch. Our enemies are playing the games smarter than we are, and winning for it.

I’d rather we focus our efforts where they are needed, wanted and effective.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 1, 2007 2:15 AM
Comment #237355

Jack
That the Mosedeq regime probably would not have “produced democracy” is worthless historical speculation. They were elected. The current theocracy’s predessores did not like them because their intent was secular governance.It is not brought in negotiations because it is in the past.
The past is not the provence of negotiations but underpins them all. At any rate,your rant about how the left is always looking to blame America was over the top and offensive. We were wrong and should accept it.WE have made other errors,both stratigicaly and moraly and have profondly shaped existence in Iran.They are not happy about it.Again,they are more democratic than many of our allies in the region.

Another thing they have every right to hold against us is our assistance in arming Iraq with chemical weaponry and assistance in the weapons deployment. The Iranians lost 57,000 in one battle alone. That was with US intell,US AWACS giving direction through client states. I remember that you are in denial of this dispite copious evidence but the the fact remains,especially for the Persians ,who are still tending the wounded.


They are not an agressive state.There is no varifileable evidence the government of Iran has any involvement in the Iraq conflict other than support for the US backed regime or that Iran is activly seeking a nuclear wheapon. It is just not there. They allow inspections.It makes no sense for them to do so and Persians are not known for stupidity.

Posted by: BillS at November 1, 2007 2:36 AM
Comment #237438

BillS,

There is no varifileable evidence the government of Iran has any involvement in the Iraq conflict other than support for the US backed regime or that Iran is activly seeking a nuclear wheapon. It is just not there. They allow inspections.It makes no sense for them to do so and Persians are not known for stupidity.

Contrary to one US government who shown how clever they are with Iraq War justification and handling…

Bush government wont learn their lessons. But the question here is what about americans?

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at November 2, 2007 9:07 AM
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